A comparison of health professions student attitudes regarding tobacco curricula and interventionist roles

Jacquelyn L Fried, Britt C Reid, Linda E DeVore
Journal of Dental Education 2004, 68 (3): 370-7
Health care providers who feel prepared are more apt to assume tobacco interventionist roles; therefore, educational preparation is critical. A nonprobability sample of health professions students at an urban academic health center were asked to respond to a twenty-two-item survey eliciting demographic, behavioral, and tobacco-related attitudinal information. Frequency distributions were assessed with Pearson chi-square statistics. The overall response rate was 76.7 percent, and final sample size was 319. Current use of spit tobacco (ST) was 2.5 percent and current smoking 5.6 percent. In comparing current smokers to nonsmokers and current ST users to nonusers, we found that no differences in proportion agreeing with any of the five questions about attitudes and opinions were statistically significant at p-value 0.05. At least 70 percent of students from each of six health professions programs agreed it was their professional responsibility to help smokers quit, and at least 65 percent agreed to the same responsibility for helping ST users quit. The proportion agreeing that their programs had course content describing their role in helping patients quit tobacco use varied widely by program from 100 percent agreement among dental hygiene and pharmacy students to 14.6 percent of physical therapy students (p-value <0.001). When asked whether their program adequately prepared them to help smokers quit, agreement ranged from 100 percent among dental hygiene students to only 5.5 percent among physical therapy students (p-value <0.001). Almost 90 percent of dental hygiene students agreed that they were adequately trained to help ST users quit, but no other program had a percentage of agreement above 34 percent (p-value <0.001). Consistent and comprehensive multidisciplinary tobacco-related curricula could offer desirable standardization.

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